Preparing for a media interview

By Tina L. Pugliese, APR, Pugliese Public Relations

tina puglieseYou have lined up a media interview, now what? There are several techniques you can employ prior to an interview that can help smooth the process and create an atmosphere of comfort and control.

What to Expect

Many media interviews are conducted over the phone. The reason is simple. Most reporters are writing on deadline, and the phone provides a simple and efficient way to make contact and gather information. There may be instances when a reporter requests a face-to-face meeting or, given today’s digital age, an e-mail exchange. But frequently, the phone is the communication medium of choice.

When speaking to a reporter over the phone, there are a few specific techniques you should consider. First, if at all possible, use a landline. Poor cell phone connections can be frustrating and may result in misquotes.

Second, try standing during the call. It may seem like an odd thing to do, but standing will put you in a more aggressive posture and can even help you focus your thoughts. Finally, limit all outside distractions. Turn away from your monitor, close out of e-mail, shut down your PDA, and lock your door. Background noise can disrupt your thought process and potentially cause you to misstate a response.

Whether on the phone, in person or via e-mail, the following tips should be considered each and every time you are presented with an interview opportunity. Each can mean the difference between an article that showcases you and your company as a powerful force in your industry and a story that fails to connect with your audience, or worse, paints your company in a bad light.

Research the Reporter and the Publication

Does this reporter usually write favorable, balanced pieces, or adopt a more scandal-seeking approach? Does the publication look for a human interest or factual style of reporting? Does the publication publish long, investigative features or shorter, newsy pieces?

The answers to these questions will determine what sort of preparation you need to do. A basic online search should yield a few past articles from a particular reporter, but to really investigate a reporter’s background and writing style, it may be necessary to subscribe to an online media database.

Prepare at Least Three Key Points You Want to Get Across

What are the most important facts or ideas you want to communicate during the interview? Your messages should pertain to the specific topic at hand but also extend to your company as a whole. Write out the information, practice talking about it, and have the notes handy when you speak to the reporter.

Anticipate Tough Questions

No matter the style of the reporter, it is always wise to prepare for tough questions. It is likely they will not be asked, but it is best to be ready for worst-case scenarios. Perhaps tough questions relate to the company’s past actions or inactions, or its position in the market with respect to its competitors.

Think about the issues as if you were outside the company looking in, and then prepare some answers in advance. If you are asked a difficult question during the interview, avoid repeating the negative angle in your response. It will validate the pessimism. Use positive words and phrases as much as possible.

Expertly Answer Friendly Questions

Responding to favorable questions also requires forethought. While you may know exactly what you want to say, the way in which you say it is very important. Often, interviewees get overanxious and try to include too much information.

This can cause your important messages to get overshadowed or lost completely. Take a breath before answering, and be sure to refer to your notes. Also, when asked something positive, try to rephrase the question in your response. As explained above, linking your answer to the question endorses the reporter’s angle.

Tina L. Pugliese, APR is an executive coach and counselor for Pugliese Public Relations, a communications firm in Boynton Beach, Florida. Pugliese is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, and is the author of the book, Public Relations for Pharmacists, and e-books, Marketing Your Business for Success, How To Work With The Media, and Public Relations Manual — A Guide for Entrepreneurs.  She can be reached at (561) 889-3575 and by email at  Her web site is

Article excerpted from e-book, Public Relations Manual — A Guide for Entrepreneurs, by Tina L. Pugliese, APR.


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